Student hospitalized after fight at school

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
spotts@salisburypost.com
Rowan County sheriff’s deputies and school officials are investigating a fight between two West Rowan Middle School students that resulted in one of the students being hospitalized.
The students, both 13, fought near the end of the day on Sept. 25, last Thursday, according to Sheriff’s Capt. John Sifford.
West Rowan Middle Principal Nancy Barkemeyer apparently broke the fight up, he said. Sifford said the school resource officer was away from the school at the time on another case and not aware of the fight.
Both students were punching each other, according to a department report filed later.
That same day, the mother of the boy eventually hospitalized had taken him to a local children’s clinic, where he was checked out and released.
Around 3:30 a.m. Friday morning, Sept. 26, the student began getting sick and feeling dizzy, Sifford said.
The boy’s mother took him to Rowan Regional Medical Center. Sheriff’s deputies reported to the hospital regarding an assault, Sifford said.
Soon after, the boy was transferred to Brenner Children’s Hospital, part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem.
“He had a hemorrhage on his brain and a contusion,” Sifford said.
Officials haven’t indicated how the fight began and whether one or both teens will be charged. State law prevents law enforcement from releasing names of juveniles charged with a crime.
The mother of the injured student said late Wednesday that school officials have offered to let her son transfer to another school.
“My son almost died on me,” the mother said, “and they want him to transfer.”
The Post is not identifying the boy because authorities haven’t determined whether charges will be filed.
The boy’s grandmother went to West Rowan Middle around 3 p.m. Thursday to pick up the student for a doctor’s appointment, his mother said.
According to her son’s account, he got up as the final bell rang and was immediately shoved by a 12-year-old who is also in the seventh grade. He was shoved into another boy, who shoved him back against the 12-year-old. The injured boy told his mother he was struck at least three times and can’t remember beyond that.
He said he had to yell for help from his teacher who was standing in the doorway talking to other teachers in the hallway. The teacher stopped the fight and the boys were taken to the office.
After several minutes of waiting, the boy’s mother said, his grandmother was taken to the office where she found her grandson lying on the floor screaming that his head was hurting. At that point, she said, the principal asked if he “throws tantrums like this at home.”
As soon as he got home, his mother took him to the children’s clinic where he was checked out. No problems were discovered.
The boy’s mother said he was sick throughout the night. She called an ambulance at 4 a.m. Friday, after he vomited for nearly three hours. He was taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center, where tests revealed a skull fracture and an nicked artery.
He was immediately transferred to Brenner Children’s Hospital and underwent surgery to repair the artery and remove the blood on his brain.
He was released Sunday evening and is scheduled to go back to the hospital for a follow-up visit today.
The mother expressed disappointment with the school.
She said officials advised her that if she wants to take out charges, her son will face an assault charge and the other student would face a charge of assault inflicting serious injury.
She said she is stunned that this could happen. She sent her son to West Rowan Middle, she said, because she thought it was a safe school.
A single mother, she said she plans to talk with her family before deciding what to do.
Rowan-Salisbury School System spokeswoman Rita Foil confirmed the school system is investigating the incident.
Since the fight involved juveniles, the school system cannot release details of the incident, Foil said.

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